Gure Olentzero ... ?
But who is the famous Olentzero?
Olentzero is nothing like Santa Claus, he is a dirty, rude coal burner who lives in the mountains. Once terrifying, young and old now look forward to it. Nowadays, he tends to replace Santa Claus in the Basque Country; he is the one who distributes the gifts to the children.
However, according to legend, Olentzero carries a message: he comes to announce to the villagers the return of light and the Winter Solstice which sees the days lengthen.
Olentzero is a character from ancestral Basque tradition. In mythology, he would be the personification of the winter solstice. According to legend, every winter, he comes down from the mountain to announce the arrival of better days and distribute coal to the villagers.
Its history is linked to the cycle of nature. Its coal symbolizes sleeping nature and scrupulously ensures that the embers remain alive so that the sun never dies and reappears at the end of winter.
Traditionally, at the end of the year, Olentzero comes on his pottok or with his donkey to see the children as the end of the year approaches to bring them a messenger of hope: the day has won the battle against night, spring is coming! Its arrival is synonymous with collective celebration to celebrate the return of the sun.
And our dear Olentzero comes to Bidart every year at the end of December to sing on the square with the children!
illustration Agathe Marcé